Dear Dr. Yael,
My husband and I have been married for more than 10 years and have a beautiful family. So, why am I writing?
We are so different from each other. I love to socialize and have company on Shabbos and Yom Tov, he likes short meals with divrei Torah, zemiros and no chit chat. I love simchas, he does not. I am outgoing and feel energized when out with others, my husband is quiet and prefers time alone. I am very neat and organized and he is more disorganized. I am the parent who is easy going and relaxed, while he disciplines our children.
That being said, I know that he compensates for my shortcomings and I likely do the same for him. I will let people take advantage of me, while he knows how to say “No” in a nice way.
I love him, but sometimes I wonder how we ended up getting married. I feel as if we are both always compromising and giving in to the other instead of just enjoying our time together. If we have company or go somewhere it is a favor that my husband is doing for me. If we spend a night in doing nothing together, it is a favor that I do for my husband.
Many of my friends are in similar situations. Can you address this topic in a column?
If you look at your marriage from a hashkafic point of view, Hashem creates a couple by splitting strengths and weaknesses and putting them in two people and then joining them together – and yes, each compensates for the other. As a matter of fact, the Gemara says that the best parenting team is one with a strict parent and a lenient one. In reality, you seem to have that with your husband. You may be more social, but he makes sure that the children get quality time with you as parents.
Research shows that people who are more similar to each other usually have easier marriages, but they also may be more “boring.” Opposites definitely attract, however, as you pointed out in your letter, sometimes the marriage is fraught with more difficulty. But nothing good comes easy and the most important similarity is core values. If you share them, then the rest will end up working itself out! You don’t mention a difference in that area, so I assume it’s not a problem for you.
Yes, having opposite personalities may be challenging at times, and yes, you may always feel like you’re doing each other “favors.” However, remember that love comes from giving to others. This does not mean that there won’t be times you may wish for someone more similar to you, but in those moments, you have to tell yourself that Hashem put you together to help compliment and bring out the best in each other.
It may be a good idea to find female friends who are similar to your personality and that enjoy doing the same activities as you. This will help fill the gap – remember, our spouses don’t have to be everything for us.
Lastly, it is important to remember these few things to help you work through these opposite traits:
- You and your husband likely balance each other out, so instead of being annoyed that he is so different from you, appreciate the fact that you can help each other.
- Try to meet each other halfway the way you likely did when you were dating. Instead of doing something you hate and he loves or vice versa, try to find something you both semi-like to do.
- Try to learn from each other! You seem to possess the strengths he is weak in and vice versa – a great opportunity for growth.
There will always be some tension in the areas where you and your husband are opposites, but you didn’t marry the wrong person! In fact, you probably married exactly the right person! Hatzlocha!